The Theology of Shine, Jesus Shine

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through… Read More

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Goruck Bullet Review – Ben Brooks

“I sought to hear the voice of God And climbed the topmost steeple; But God declared, “Go down again, I dwell among the people.”

John Henry Newman


9 things that make a difference on a long-haul flight

Photo: Hong Kong airport last Saturday, waiting for our connecting flight to Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Most people only fly long-haul every couple of years for a holiday, if that, but for a few of us, part of our job means we tend to be up in the air for 9+ hours 1 a few times a year 2.

I love flying, (I’m actually on one as I write this!) planes have always fascinated me. The idea of travelling huge distances in short amounts of time and being released from a metal tube into a completely new place with its own sights, smells and sounds. It’s the closest thing to time travel you can get!

Over the last 5 years Rachel and I have probably been on over 50 flights, at least 20-30 of those must have been long haul. By lots of standards, that doesn’t make us frequent flyers, but combined with my enthusiasm to hack the experience of flying, we’ve figured out how to make it a little more bearable.

1. Drink lots of water and only water

I’m sure a scientist could explain exactly why planes act like deserts and suck every drop of water from your body, but all I know is planes=dehydration.

You should aim to drink one of those small bottles of water per 2 hours you are on the flight, minimum. I promise you, you’ll feel much better at arrival even if you have to get up to go to the bathroom more3.

Although you might be tempted by offers of free alcohol, the reality is it contributes to dehydrating you and gives any sleep you do get a groggy lightness, STAY AWAY FROM IT.

2. Switch your clocks to destination time

One of the greatest battles for travel that moves between time zones is managing your body clock. I change every clock I have (laptop, phone, watch) once we take off and try and sleep and eat on that schedule.

I might leave my watch unchanged if I’m transferring through an airport in another time zone, but on the flight I’ll look at only the arrival location time and tell myself no other time zone exists. It sounds as bad as a 70’s self help book, but I’ve found if I can add 12+ hours (which living at the bottom of africa is pretty much any international flight), to my body clock adjustment things go a lot easier on arrival.

3. Get an aisle seat

There are two types of flyers, so the adage goes, aisle and window4. I am firmly in the aisle camp – you don’t have to bother your neighbour to get out, and you generally feel like you have more space (even though you probably don’t). There is nothing worse than drinking water (like I recommended in No.1) and having a grumpy aisle-seated neighbour to whom you have to apologise profusely every time you need to get out.

4. Strategic seat spacing

This is a trick on long haul flights, where if you and the person you are travelling with can reserve the two aisle seats on the central section of the plane then normally the two middle seats are the last to get taken (or if you are slightly less brave, seat 1 and 3 in a row of 4).

Then you and your travelling partner can lift the seat arms and take turns lying down in business class lite.

You increase your chance of those seats staying free the further back in the plane you are willing to go (but remember the further back, the louder the engine noise, the more you feel turbulence, and the less likely they are to have your meal choice left).

Worst case scenario here is that the plane is full and you have one or more people sitting inbetween you, but aisle seats are prime real-estate on planes and so I’ve never had any hassle with asking someone to take my aisle seat so I can sit next to a person I’m travelling with.

5. Create a schedule ordered from active to passive

This sounds massivley OCD, but I don’t mean you have to write out your schedule with timings, laminate it and then then follow it religiously!

Long haul flights, as the name implies, are long, so have a game plan.

Just like if you were forced to sit on your couch for 12+ hours but had nothing to do the time would feel longer, the same goes for flights.

Flights are a great time to work, write, read, watch and think. But the longer you are on the flight, the less-functional and able you are. If I want to write email, or plan some training, things I think I will need to be sharp for, I’ll do those first. After, I might read something and make notes for studying, then finally I will read a novel or watch a movie. As my tiredness increases the activity goes from active to passive.

This scheduling works to break the time up as well, Rachel’s add-on trick here is refuse to check the map or progress screen until she is sure she is 50% through the flight!

6. Batteries and backups

There’s not much worse than realising you lugged your electronics through the security check only to realise they are sub 50% on the battery indicator. Buy a power pack (5000mah+) that you can charge and then in turn can charge your electronics when they run low and make sure everything is turned off when not using it.

Similar for headphones that are powered (such as noise-cancelling ones – see point 7), bring a couple of AA or AAA batteries to keep them rolling.

7. Get the best noise cancelling headphones you can afford

Early on in our travelling life, my wife and some of her family all clubbed together to buy me some bose noise cancelling headphones. They were the best travel accessory we ever bought. Don’t get me wrong, they are not cheap at all 5but as the saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for’, and noise-cancelling headphones certainly follow the rule here.

Apparently bose researched the Hz level that engine noise sits at (which contributes most to your sense of monotony and tiredness) and cancels that out. The plus side is that they create great (if not a little bass biased) sounds both in the air and at home.

I had the over ear versions which worked great but would, when used for 9+ hours, start to feel warm and claustrophobic. Last year I upgraded them to the in-ear variety and the noise cancelling is significantly better due to the fact that the headphone itself isolates the sound closer to your ear, making for a better seal.

8. Be nice to airline employees

Unfortunately airplanes and airports often don’t bring out the best in people. Most travellers feel stressed, confused and out of control and they paid alot of money for the pleasure of it all.

Airline employees have to move people around and fit them in like cattle, but somehow help them reconcile that they paid the price of a luxury good for whole ordeal.

All that to say, airline employees are dealing with people who are primarily thinking of themselves the whole time; what they can get, how they can control their environment and get through their anxiety. The employees need a break!

Secondly, I’ve never, ever, seen someone be rude, short, abrasive and then receive better service or treatment on an aircraft. If you wanted to be treated like a human, then you have to treat the airlines employees that way.

Sometimes you’ll even find an airline employee who is curt, cold, and unengaged. An understandable posture for someone who is treated like I mentioned above, is leaving their friends and family, and negotiating time zones regularly. I’ve been amazed how easy it can be to change a persons day but speaking to them kindly with a smile, it may even lead to some special treatment.

9. Take a change of clothes (and some toiletries)

Imagine sitting on our couch for 9+ hours with varying temperatures, eating microwave meals and drinking plenty of liquids all without doing alot of movement. It’s not exactly a recipe for fresh hygiene.

About an hour before landing (normally right after breakfast on overnight flights) it feels great to head to the bathroom figure out some hygiene (deodrant, teeth brushing), change a t-shirt and some underwear.

This makes the difference between getting through the first day vs. feeling grimey and bad tempered. It also contributes to overcoming jet lag, even if you didn’t sleep, act like you just woke up, following some sense of morning ritual and your body will follow suit.

Do you travel regularly? leave your “10th tip” in the comments below

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  1. my own definition of long-haul 
  2. especially when you live at the bottom of Africa! 
  3. (which isn’t a problem if you follow No. 4) 
  4. although I’m tempted to think that the dichotomy falls along the same lines as occasional/frequent travellers rather than an actual preference. 
  5. although the QC2 bose model can be found second hand in eBay for less than £90 and because they were bought as a seriously luxury item people normally keep them in good condition. 

“All things are not only sustained by God; but all things are also being made new in Christ. All things are being liberated and restored – becoming more than they are, becoming all they were intended to be… Read More

Spirituality and the Awakening Self, - Benner


Friday Link List | 17th July 2015

Every Friday I’m posting links to things I’ve read this week that I think you might find interesting too –

Last week may have seemed a little heavy and theological, but I was amidst a kids camp so I think my rest and retreat from the joyous chaos that surrounded me was the heavy stuff.

  • Its winter here in South Africa, but going online makes you realise how much editorial voice comes from the north and therefore shouts with one voice – “it’s summer”, well it’s not here but it has certainly been the most tepid winter of the last 5 years so thats something be grateful for and Flickr have put together some beautiful summer pictures that if I get close enough to the fire, can make me remember how summer feels.

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Scripture or Love – The false dichotomy created by the current debate surrounding Homosexuality

I’ve been too busy to be overly attentive to the furor erupting around the supreme court decision to allow gay marriage, but I’ve seen enough around facebook and through media streams to know it is becoming divisive.

The false urgency that pushes everything into Yes or No

There are christians wanting to nuance their public voices to make them pastoral (at best) and to subjugate the scriptural challenges (at worst). This tends to be followed by christians wanting to correct other christians by reasserting the importance of scripture (at best) and espousing their own bigotry (at worst).

These issues often take on a very two-sided nature, especially in the U.S. where the public sphere of conversation has been defined by 2 party politics pushing each other into opposite extremes.

So again here the loudest voices want to make us quickly affirm a YES or NO, even when the question itself is not always clear or stated.

Each of these questions I believe should have a clear christian answer, but not all the same answer;

  • Does Scripture condone homosexual relationships?
  • How do we handle situations that don’t seem explicitly dealt with in Scripture?
  • Should Church conform to culture?
  • Should society demand religious communities to neglect clearly held scriptural teaching that has historical continuity for the past 400 years or more?
  • Are all sins the same or are sexual sins worse?
  • What should Christians think? about believers who practise homosexuality? about believers who experience same-sex attraction? about non-believers who practise homosexuality? about believers who want to hold offices of authority who practise homosexuality?

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Friday Link List | 10th July 2015

Every Friday I’m posting links to things I’ve read this week that I think you might find interesting too –

  • Andy Goodliff reviews a new book which interviews Brian Brock, an old Aberdeen Professor of mine and is editted by Kenneth Oakes (who I am pretty sure was a PhD candidate while I was there tha contributed to Websters Barth classes), Andy wonders if Brian Brock in the next Hauerwas;

both are bald white men from Texas

I enjoyed Brock’s Ethics 101, although I remember complaining to him about the £25 price tag of one of his books and lamenting the reading of Augustine’s city of God rather than talking about the death penalty..I’m fairly sure the whole thing felt like ‘pearls before swine’ for him!

the spiritual notion of salvation (forgiveness, relation with God, eternal life with God) to the social notion of salvation (justice, healing, systemic evil vanquished). Very few hold them together: Jesus did and so too did the Evangelist Luke..

And how we should consider the exodus from Egypt the primary picture of salvation and a story that gives us both the spiritual and social dimension without forcing us to pick camps.

  • I believe that the majority of people on earth today live in fear, and it is one of the primary things that God is longing to set us free from. Unfortunately simply believing in Jesus is not enough to truly set us free from the side-affect of self-reliance. Jim Martin once again unpacks how we can reflect on whether the actions or other, or of ourselves flow from fear, read more here.

  • Should we pray for the sick or just hal them? I’ve heard this a few times and haven’t taken it that seriously, Andrew Wilson unpacks why He believes it may not be particularly biblical folk wisdom as it claims to be..

So if someone tells you that you shouldn’t pray for the sick, but should speak to the sickness instead, you should probably ignore them. And then pray for them.

Kim Fabricus is always a polarizing force on Faith and Theology but pens this sermon on the woman with bleeding and the healing of Jairus’ daughter which I found captivating, here’s a few captions to see you through the weekend.

Which is why reason alone, though reason we must, will never turn people from their racism, xenophobia, homophobia. It takes experience – knowing, befriending, eating and drinking, laughing and crying with black people, foreign people, gay and lesbian people. It takes contact – touch – the touch of Jesus. It takes love, a love which is the “suspension of disgust” (Richard Beck).

End of story? Almost. But observe one final detail. Both the older woman and the little girl have been called “daughters”. They also have a number in common. (Numbers are very significant in the Bible.) Mark has told us that the woman had been ill for twelve years; now he tells us that the girl is twelve years-old. Twelve – ring a bell? Twelve as in the twelve tribes of Israel? The twelve disciples, symbolically representing Israel, are male. Here the representatives are female, and particularly insignificant females at that, a sick outlier and a mere child. In both stories in our master class of a narrative, Mark is pointing to the new social order and, indeed the new kind of human being that Jesus has in mind when he speaks of the “kingdom of God”: an egalitarian community in which insider and outsider sit at table side-by-side, the one relieved of pride, the other of despair, each discovering their own good in the common good, each encountering Christ in the other.

  • We are on short kids camp with kids from our local township, check out a short time lapse from games on the field!

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Where is God’s presence?

Where is God’s presence, How are we to long for it, How much of it should we expect, and How much are we to be it for one another?

I have been thinking alot about these ideas through some ideas that have been recently popularised in John Waltons book, The Lost world of Genesis One1, which seeks to recover how ancient near middle eastern readers (or hearers) would have understood the story.

Walton explains how the garden of eden and more widely the creation of the cosmos follows patterns of other creation stories in the near East. The Genesis account describes the garden in ways the original hearers would have understood as at once and temple and a palace

In ancient near eastern cultures humans created material idols, and placed them in a garden which was their ‘kingly’ seating and the temple at which people encountered their presence. What followed after the idol building phase was what was called a ‘spiritation’ ceremony, literally an in-Spirit-ing where the priest of the given idol would finalise the ceremony by breathing onto the idol to give it life. Remind you of anything?

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